Search tips
Search criteria

Results 1-8 (8)

Clipboard (0)

Select a Filter Below

Year of Publication
Document Types
author:("Xiong, fujian")
1.  New Tricks for “Old” Domains: How Novel Architectures and Promiscuous Hubs Contributed to the Organization and Evolution of the ECM 
Genome Biology and Evolution  2014;6(10):2897-2917.
The extracellular matrix (ECM) is a defining characteristic of metazoans and consists of a meshwork of self-assembling, fibrous proteins, and their functionally related neighbours. Previous studies, focusing on a limited number of gene families, suggest that vertebrate complexity predominantly arose through the duplication and subsequent modification of retained, preexisting ECM genes. These genes provided the structural underpinnings to support a variety of specialized tissues, as well as a platform for the organization of spatio-temporal signaling and cell migration. However, the relative contributions of ancient versus novel domains to ECM evolution have not been quantified across the full range of ECM proteins. Here, utilizing a high quality list comprising 324 ECM genes, we reveal general and clade-specific domain combinations, identifying domains of eukaryotic and metazoan origin recruited into new roles in approximately two-third of the ECM proteins in humans representing novel vertebrate proteins. We show that, rather than acquiring new domains, sampling of new domain combinations has been key to the innovation of paralogous ECM genes during vertebrate evolution. Applying a novel framework for identifying potentially important, noncontiguous, conserved arrangements of domains, we find that the distinct biological characteristics of the ECM have arisen through unique evolutionary processes. These include the preferential recruitment of novel domains to existing architectures and the utilization of high promiscuity domains in organizing the ECM network around a connected array of structural hubs. Our focus on ECM proteins reveals that distinct types of proteins and/or the biological systems in which they operate have influenced the types of evolutionary forces that drive protein innovation. This emphasizes the need for rigorously defined systems to address questions of evolution that focus on specific systems of interacting proteins.
PMCID: PMC4224354  PMID: 25323955
extracellular matrix; protein domains; domain architecture; evolution; domain networks
2.  Identification of a Functional Connectome for Long-Term Fear Memory in Mice 
PLoS Computational Biology  2013;9(1):e1002853.
Long-term memories are thought to depend upon the coordinated activation of a broad network of cortical and subcortical brain regions. However, the distributed nature of this representation has made it challenging to define the neural elements of the memory trace, and lesion and electrophysiological approaches provide only a narrow window into what is appreciated a much more global network. Here we used a global mapping approach to identify networks of brain regions activated following recall of long-term fear memories in mice. Analysis of Fos expression across 84 brain regions allowed us to identify regions that were co-active following memory recall. These analyses revealed that the functional organization of long-term fear memories depends on memory age and is altered in mutant mice that exhibit premature forgetting. Most importantly, these analyses indicate that long-term memory recall engages a network that has a distinct thalamic-hippocampal-cortical signature. This network is concurrently integrated and segregated and therefore has small-world properties, and contains hub-like regions in the prefrontal cortex and thalamus that may play privileged roles in memory expression.
Author Summary
Memory retrieval is thought to involve the coordinated activation of multiple regions of the brain, rather than localized activity in a specific region. In order to visualize networks of brain regions activated by recall of a fear memory in mice, we quantified expression of an activity-regulated gene (c-fos) that is induced by neural activity. This allowed us to identify collections of brain regions where Fos expression co-varies across mice, and presumably form components of a network that are co-active during recall of long-term fear memory. This analysis suggested that expression of a long-term fear memory is an emergent property of large scale neural network interactions. This network has a distinct thalamic-hippocampal-cortical signature and, like many real-world networks as well as other anatomical and functional brain networks, has small-world architecture with a subset of highly-connected hub nodes that may play more central roles in memory expression.
PMCID: PMC3536620  PMID: 23300432
3.  Generation and Analysis of a Mouse Intestinal Metatranscriptome through Illumina Based RNA-Sequencing 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e36009.
With the advent of high through-put sequencing (HTS), the emerging science of metagenomics is transforming our understanding of the relationships of microbial communities with their environments. While metagenomics aims to catalogue the genes present in a sample through assessing which genes are actively expressed, metatranscriptomics can provide a mechanistic understanding of community inter-relationships. To achieve these goals, several challenges need to be addressed from sample preparation to sequence processing, statistical analysis and functional annotation. Here we use an inbred non-obese diabetic (NOD) mouse model in which germ-free animals were colonized with a defined mixture of eight commensal bacteria, to explore methods of RNA extraction and to develop a pipeline for the generation and analysis of metatranscriptomic data. Applying the Illumina HTS platform, we sequenced 12 NOD cecal samples prepared using multiple RNA-extraction protocols. The absence of a complete set of reference genomes necessitated a peptide-based search strategy. Up to 16% of sequence reads could be matched to a known bacterial gene. Phylogenetic analysis of the mapped ORFs revealed a distribution consistent with ribosomal RNA, the majority from Bacteroides or Clostridium species. To place these HTS data within a systems context, we mapped the relative abundance of corresponding Escherichia coli homologs onto metabolic and protein-protein interaction networks. These maps identified bacterial processes with components that were well-represented in the datasets. In summary this study highlights the potential of exploiting the economy of HTS platforms for metatranscriptomics.
PMCID: PMC3338770  PMID: 22558305
4.  Genetic Interaction Maps in Escherichia coli Reveal Functional Crosstalk among Cell Envelope Biogenesis Pathways 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(11):e1002377.
As the interface between a microbe and its environment, the bacterial cell envelope has broad biological and clinical significance. While numerous biosynthesis genes and pathways have been identified and studied in isolation, how these intersect functionally to ensure envelope integrity during adaptive responses to environmental challenge remains unclear. To this end, we performed high-density synthetic genetic screens to generate quantitative functional association maps encompassing virtually the entire cell envelope biosynthetic machinery of Escherichia coli under both auxotrophic (rich medium) and prototrophic (minimal medium) culture conditions. The differential patterns of genetic interactions detected among >235,000 digenic mutant combinations tested reveal unexpected condition-specific functional crosstalk and genetic backup mechanisms that ensure stress-resistant envelope assembly and maintenance. These networks also provide insights into the global systems connectivity and dynamic functional reorganization of a universal bacterial structure that is both broadly conserved among eubacteria (including pathogens) and an important target.
Author Summary
Proper assembly of the cell envelope is essential for bacterial growth, environmental adaptation, and drug resistance. Yet, while the biological roles of the many genes and pathways involved in biosynthesis of the cell envelope have been studied extensively in isolation, how the myriad components intersect functionally to maintain envelope integrity under different growth conditions has not been explored systematically. Genome-scale genetic interaction screens have increasingly been performed to great impact in yeast; no analogous comprehensive studies have yet been reported for bacteria despite their prominence in human health and disease. We addressed this by using a synthetic genetic array technology to generate quantitative maps of genetic interactions encompassing virtually all the components of the cell envelope biosynthetic machinery of the classic model bacterium E. coli in two common laboratory growth conditions (rich and minimal medium). From the resulting networks of high-confidence genetic interactions, we identify condition-specific functional dependencies underlying envelope assembly and global remodeling of genetic backup mechanisms that ensure envelope integrity under environmental challenge.
PMCID: PMC3219608  PMID: 22125496
5.  Expanding the Landscape of Chromatin Modification (CM)-Related Functional Domains and Genes in Human 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(11):e14122.
Chromatin modification (CM) plays a key role in regulating transcription, DNA replication, repair and recombination. However, our knowledge of these processes in humans remains very limited. Here we use computational approaches to study proteins and functional domains involved in CM in humans. We analyze the abundance and the pair-wise domain-domain co-occurrences of 25 well-documented CM domains in 5 model organisms: yeast, worm, fly, mouse and human. Results show that domains involved in histone methylation, DNA methylation, and histone variants are remarkably expanded in metazoan, reflecting the increased demand for cell type-specific gene regulation. We find that CM domains tend to co-occur with a limited number of partner domains and are hence not promiscuous. This property is exploited to identify 47 potentially novel CM domains, including 24 DNA-binding domains, whose role in CM has received little attention so far. Lastly, we use a consensus Machine Learning approach to predict 379 novel CM genes (coding for 329 proteins) in humans based on domain compositions. Several of these predictions are supported by very recent experimental studies and others are slated for experimental verification. Identification of novel CM genes and domains in humans will aid our understanding of fundamental epigenetic processes that are important for stem cell differentiation and cancer biology. Information on all the candidate CM domains and genes reported here is publicly available.
PMCID: PMC2993927  PMID: 21124763
6.  DAnCER: Disease-Annotated Chromatin Epigenetics Resource 
Nucleic Acids Research  2010;39(Database issue):D889-D894.
Chromatin modification (CM) is a set of epigenetic processes that govern many aspects of DNA replication, transcription and repair. CM is carried out by groups of physically interacting proteins, and their disruption has been linked to a number of complex human diseases. CM remains largely unexplored, however, especially in higher eukaryotes such as human. Here we present the DAnCER resource, which integrates information on genes with CM function from five model organisms, including human. Currently integrated are gene functional annotations, Pfam domain architecture, protein interaction networks and associated human diseases. Additional supporting evidence includes orthology relationships across organisms, membership in protein complexes, and information on protein 3D structure. These data are available for 962 experimentally confirmed and manually curated CM genes and for over 5000 genes with predicted CM function on the basis of orthology and domain composition. DAnCER allows visual explorations of the integrated data and flexible query capabilities using a variety of data filters. In particular, disease information and functional annotations are mapped onto the protein interaction networks, enabling the user to formulate new hypotheses on the function and disease associations of a given gene based on those of its interaction partners. DAnCER is freely available at
PMCID: PMC3013761  PMID: 20876685
7.  Comparison of substrate specificity of the ubiquitin ligases Nedd4 and Nedd4-2 using proteome arrays 
Target recognition by the ubiquitin system is mediated by E3 ubiquitin ligases. Nedd4 family members are E3 ligases comprised of a C2 domain, 2–4 WW domains that bind PY motifs (L/PPxY) and a ubiquitin ligase HECT domain. The nine Nedd4 family proteins in mammals include two close relatives: Nedd4 (Nedd4-1) and Nedd4L (Nedd4-2), but their global substrate recognition or differences in substrate specificity are unknown. We performed in vitro ubiquitylation and binding assays of human Nedd4-1 and Nedd4-2, and rat-Nedd4-1, using protein microarrays spotted with ∼8200 human proteins. Top hits (substrates) for the ubiquitylation and binding assays mostly contain PY motifs. Although several substrates were recognized by both Nedd4-1 and Nedd4-2, others were specific to only one, with several Tyr kinases preferred by Nedd4-1 and some ion channels by Nedd4-2; this was subsequently validated in vivo. Accordingly, Nedd4-1 knockdown or knockout in cells led to sustained signalling via some of its substrate Tyr kinases (e.g. FGFR), suggesting Nedd4-1 suppresses their signalling. These results demonstrate the feasibility of identifying substrates and deciphering substrate specificity of mammalian E3 ligases.
PMCID: PMC2824488  PMID: 19953087
E3 ubiquitin ligase; HECT domain; Nedd4; proteome array; ubiquitin
8.  The Modular Organization of Protein Interactions in Escherichia coli 
PLoS Computational Biology  2009;5(10):e1000523.
Escherichia coli serves as an excellent model for the study of fundamental cellular processes such as metabolism, signalling and gene expression. Understanding the function and organization of proteins within these processes is an important step towards a ‘systems’ view of E. coli. Integrating experimental and computational interaction data, we present a reliable network of 3,989 functional interactions between 1,941 E. coli proteins (∼45% of its proteome). These were combined with a recently generated set of 3,888 high-quality physical interactions between 918 proteins and clustered to reveal 316 discrete modules. In addition to known protein complexes (e.g., RNA and DNA polymerases), we identified modules that represent biochemical pathways (e.g., nitrate regulation and cell wall biosynthesis) as well as batteries of functionally and evolutionarily related processes. To aid the interpretation of modular relationships, several case examples are presented, including both well characterized and novel biochemical systems. Together these data provide a global view of the modular organization of the E. coli proteome and yield unique insights into structural and evolutionary relationships in bacterial networks.
Author Summary
Genes and their protein products do not operate in isolation, but form components of highly interconnected biological systems. Identifying the connections between components is therefore critical to understanding how these processes are organized and operate. E. coli is the leading model bacterium; however despite its importance in biological and medical discovery, an accurate atlas of these interactions is still lacking. On the other hand, several computational and experimental procedures have been applied on a high-throughput basis to provide collections of interaction data of varying quality and coverage. Using a sophisticated mathematical framework, we have combined and benchmarked these data to create a single, highly reliable set of interactions that encompasses almost 50% of the E. coli proteome. Organizing these data on the basis of their interactions, we identify groups of proteins representing functionally coordinated modules such as molecular machines (e.g., the flagellum) and biochemical pathways. Finally through examining the organization of E. coli interactions in the context of evolution, we propose a new model of bacterial network evolution that accounts for the integration of foreign genes acquired through horizontal gene transfer mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC2739439  PMID: 19798435

Results 1-8 (8)